Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Scorpion's Forehead

This week we began the month of Elul. Elul is considered to be the time when we prepare ourselves to stand in judgment before Hashem on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Interestingly, a somewhat uncommon event will occur this Shabbos.

As we know, the moon is significantly closer to us than any of the stars and planets. As such, every so often the moon's path has it crossing in front of another celestial object. When this happens, the celestial object gets "covered" by the moon and is invisible until the moon passes. When the moon does this to the sun it is called an eclipse. When this event occurs to another object it is generally referred to as an occultation.

This Shabbos the moon will occult a fairly bright star, Dschubba (Delta Scorpii). This will be the brightest star occulted this year. Dschubba is in the constellation Scorpius and is envisioned as the forehead of the this celestial scorpion. In rabbinic literature the moon is often times symbolic of Klal Yisrael and Scorpius of the painful verdict of judgment. (See Midrash Tehillim 22 and Tanchuma Haazinu 1) The constellation of Scorpius is also associated with the Satan and it is he that tries to prosecute us during these holy days. However, we are able to find favor in Hashem's "eyes" and He allows for repentance especially during this time period. In fact, on Yom Kippur the Satan is rendered powerless.

May the symbolism of the moon's blotting out the light of Scorpius also come true as Klal Yisrael "blots" out and renders the Satan powerless as we find favor in Hashem's "eyes" with true repentance. For more information regarding when one can see this occultation click here.

Also, if anyone is interested in reading up on the halachos associated with astrology, magic, superstition, necromancy, Molech, divination, charms, and the like click here. These mitzvos can be found in this week's Parsha and The Rosh's son Rebbi Yehuda characterized them as being fundamentals upon which the entire Torah is based. He also declared that violations of them are why the exile has persisted. The above reading also attempts to discuss why this is the case.

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